Very few kits have been available of the Vampire T.11 or its export versions in 1/72 and certainly no mainstream injected ones. This kit is without doubt a most welcome arrival! So what’s in this very attractively designed box then?
A comprehensive decal sheet almost the same size as the box is supplied. Markings for two aircraft and a horrendous lot of stencilling! A nice touch is that the underwing numbers are supplied in both full and pre-cut variants for use with either gear-up or gear-down builds. Regarding those two decal options, one is from RAF Oakington in 1962, silver with lots of colourful orange dayglo markings. The other one is a currently airworthy civilian registred aircraft based with the Vampire Preservation Group at North Weald, also in silver but with different dayglo markings. I would have preferred another operational option considering the almost total lack of after-market decals. On the other hand it is a rather charming initiative and according to the instructions VPG and Airfix cooperated in the preparation of this kit.
The plastic parts are on par with the latest Airfix offerings, maybe even a bit more refined. Panel lines are probably still a bit too heavy for some modellers tastes; I for one have no problem with them. They tend to look perfectly OK on the finished model! Details such as wheels, landing gear and cockpit parts are well detailed and finely cast. There is real intake trunking (filling and sanding that one internally will be quite an adventure...), a compressor face and a bit of detail on the rear cockpit decking. There is also a fairly nicely cast full crew of two, the fact that they are identical twins and obviously flying on autopilot (hands on the knees...) takes away a bit of the attraction... Sadly, still no engraved instrument panel; decal only as usual... When it comes to general casting quality, there is no flash but a sink mark is present along the upper surfaces of the flaps. This one will be very visible if not filled and sanded before painting!
The clear parts look OK. The bulged canopy (separately cast so can be built open) could have been both thinner and clearer but still I think I can live with it as it is.
Assembly isn’t entirely conventional since the upper wing surface is supplied as one piece, wingtip to wingtip together with the center fuselage top. This then straddles the fuselage pod. I hope the parts fit well and even then I think some extra care when assembling this part of the kit will be necessary! Load options are limited to droptanks or not.
There are a few things that are NOT in the box that would have been nice to find there. The most obvious part is an early type canopy that is flatter and with more framing. Myself being Swedish, more than half of our Vampire fleet flew with that canopy. The other thing missing is different seats: many Vampires were flown without ejection seats, instead having bakelite “Spitfire-type” seats. This last thing is however a lot easier to fix than the canopy, I think you even could get away with filing down the kit ejections seats...
This is a sure winner and most probably a big seller being just about the only game in town for an attractive price. Model-wise I think Airfix have done a quite reasonable job but I still wish they had tried to stretch that last bit! Regarding the lack of decal options, I think this problem will be solved before most of us come to the decal stage of our first Airfix Vampire build...
Highs: A sound and well-detailed at the usual reasonable Airfix-price!Lows: Canopy could have been a bit clearer and thinner. Verdict: The very fact that this is a nicely done Vampire T.11 makes this one a sure winner!
About Magnus Fridsell (magnusf) FROM: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
It all started with a Biggles book, one of those where he is a flying policeman... He flew an Auster of some kind. Later that year, this was in 1982 when I was 10, I got the Airfix Series 1 Auster for Christmas.
Since then modelling has been my interest. It has survived RC flying, flying full sca...